If there’s one thing I love about cold weather (apart from sweaters, indoor fires and booze-spiked morning beverages), it’s warm desserts. And what better way to enjoy a warm dessert than with a hearty crop of cold weather produce! I had the Granny Smiths, and given my near-obsession with the French, this next dessert was a no-brainer…

Apple Tarte Tatin!

I’ve had my share of this warm, caramelly pastry and the results have been as varied as one could expect; sometimes tart, sometimes super caramelly, sometimes mushy, sometimes firm. I’ve made it a few times (and had the pleasure of devouring it at a fab French restaurant near my house) and have determined that I prefer the apples to be firm, the pastry super buttery, and the caramel flavor pronounced. I believe I’ve achieved just that with the following recipe!

Started out with 6 firm, Granny Smiths…

And the backbone of any good pie/pastry dough – butter, flour, sugar, salt (and an egg)…

Sifted the dry ingredients together and cut in the butter…

Beat the egg with a TBSP of water and added that to the dough, blending until the dough just comes together.

Turned the dough out onto an unfloured surface.

NOTE: It’ll look like a crumbly mess, but have no fear, it’ll come together. I promise!

Kneaded it quickly and then gathered it into a neat little ball. Wrapped it in plastic wrap, flattened it into a disk and let it set in the fridge for about an hour.

Once the dough had set, I rolled it out into a circle that was about 1 inch larger in diameter than the pan I planned on using (which was about 10in). Pricked the dough all over with a fork, covered and popped it into the freezer until about 10 minutes before ready to use.

Then I set to work on my apples… Cored them.

Peeled them.

And quartered them. I popped the prepared apples into a large bowl of lightly salted water until I was ready to cook them. This prevents them from turning brown and gross.

Melted the butter in my 10in, ovenproof pan over medium heat, taking time to brush the entire interior of the pan with butter.

Once the butter had melted, I sprinkled the sugar over the butter and cooked until the sugar was completely moistened. I didn’t time this part, but I’d say it took about 1-2 minutes. Removed it from the heat and arranged the apples in concentric circles, cut side up.

NOTE: You don’t want the sugar to completely melt at this stage – it’ll have plenty of time to caramelize once you add the apples. If it’s already caramelizing when you add the apples, you run the risk of burning that delicious caramel – no good!

Placed the pan back on the heat, this time at medium-high. The apples shrink as they cook, so I just added more apple quarters as needed. Sometimes I had to halve those quarters to make them neatly fill in the gaps. No worries though, because those weird little cut pieces will be covered by the pastry in the next step!

Cooked the whole shebang for about 15-20 minutes, until the liquid (juice from the apples and the sugar/butter mixture) turn a delightfully rich golden color. About 10 minutes into cooking, I pulled my prepared dough out of the freezer and let that hang out on the counter until I was ready for it.

The apples and caramel were looking fine, so I preheated my oven to 375F, lined a baking sheet with foil (believe me, you want to do this step – this thing bubbles like a mutha while it’s baking) and let the apples rest on the baking sheet for a few minutes.

Placed the dough on top of the apples and tucked the edges in with a rubber spatula. Then I just popped the whole thing into the oven for about 25-30 minutes.

Let the baked tart rest for a few minutes, ran a butter knife along the edges, and (using potholders) turned that bad boy out onto a large rimmed plate!

Mmm! We couldn’t wait to serve it up! So I took a little creme fraiche…

And drizzled it over each slice!

To die!

Recipe adapted from Use Real Butter.

5 5/8 oz. (or 1 1/4 cups) flour
1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
3 oz. (6 tbsps) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large egg
1 tbsp cold water

5 to 7 Granny Smith apples, firm (reduce to 4 apples if making 7-inch)
4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter (reduce to 2 oz. if making 7-inch)
3/4 cup granulated sugar (reduce to 3/8 cup if making 7-inch)